Now, this is simply my opinion. My observation.

I see his hunger pains. I know his blood boils. He wanna roll with me. I know this kid’ll be loyal.  
Jay-Z – “Coming of Age

        People look for different things in the artists they’ll deem their (most recent) favorite. This is a new era (not the fitted) where the youth are searching for a favorite rapper because they were too young buy Reasonable Doubt in 1996 much less anything else. The young BIG and Tupac fans’ admiration seems to be sewn in a ground of respect.   In my experience, most current-day Young Money fans have a hard to time arguing why they weren’t so quick to hop on Lil’ Wayne during his “Wobble-dee – wobble-dee. Drop-drop it like it’s hot” initial debut.

     Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve made it my duty to listen to both J.Cole’s and Drake’s complete works to date. For J.Cole, this is comprised of The Come Up (2007) (download), The Warm up (2009) (download), and Cole World (2010) (download).  Drake’s works include….

        I initially started this post on August 4, 2010. As I wrote this, I think I was wiki’ing each artist. Then I realized how much music these guys have… I couldn’t bring myself to write it all out. This is an era of mixtapes & these guys released one after the other with no remorse. Pirating music takes time. So, eventually, I downloaded it all & threw it all in my iTunes. I’ve been listening to it all… and it was tough to figure out what I felt until recently, when J Cole & Drake released a song together, “Hit it in the Morning.” & as I wrote another post (I write like 5 at a time to get the ideas out), I felt it was a good time to elaborate on my preference.

        First & Foremost, J. Cole & Drake on one track isn’t ridiculous? They’re both infinitely talented. Equally hungry. And seem to be cut from the same cloth. They sound and kinda look… an awful lot alike. Neither are exactly heartthrobs. They’re regular dudes… but I can see why one would admire such swag. Not to say I wouldn’t date either… I would. But let’s be honest. Now that they’re famous, the money would matter. I can admit it. But it’d be the ambition and persona that would make me consider delving into “groupie” territory. NOTE: If you think the rest of this post is going to be based solely on their looks, feel free to use the [X] in the top corner of your browser. But just like you, I see with my eyes. I have to address my opinion in completion. 
Moving on. 
    J.  Cole and Drake share a demeanor that is something like that of a refined hustler. These boys ain’t by-any-means-necessary hustlers… well Cole had his part of the streets, but he is a “College Boy“. & He says it himself, “kill that ol’ college gangsta shit. We dont believe.” Besides, I heard from D.O. Vincent, writer of, he had a 3.5 (I’ve been corrected. He had a 3.87. More brilliant than I thought.) outta St. John’s. Both, Cole & Drake, have hustle in them in that they work hard in an, “I been up for four days, getting money both ways” way. They’re work is crisp. Vocabularies pristine. Their flows are somewhat sung to you. Even the roughest of statements. There’s a gritty edge to their pretty boy appearances which is received well by both males and females. My preference tho, is Cole… perhaps because I admire his intelligence. The simple fact that he is comfortable in his intelligence but didn’t let that make him into a sucker.  I think this song right here is doing it for Cole. He needed this. Something radio-like. His work is incredible, but sometimes too heavy for today’s radio. He’s brutal. “I’m Raw…” he growls in “Winter Break.”  [sidenote: Whatever Happened to Freestyling?] In my humble opinion, Drake does this same shit all the time. The talk to the girls & be emotional shit. I like that Cole has more than one side to him. Consistency seems false to me. Change is a natural attribute of the human species. Cole says shit like “All created equal looks like ‘≤’ (“less than” or “equal to”). Depending on your race or depending on your address, man.” That is where the old Hip-Hop resides within Cole vs Drake. Cole speaks for a people. When you have a voice, you should use it for the advantage of more people than yourself. Like Toni Morrison said, “The function of freedom is to free someone else.”

I’m wise enough to know that know that money can’t buy you happiness and lovers. But it’s gone get my momma out the struggle, nigga.  J. Cole– Rags to Riches (At the Beep)

     Drake don’t say shit. I’m not saying this makes him less “good”. He’s lyrically talented. He has a way with rhythm and wordplay that is rare. But he doesn’t tackle many topics outside of himself. He talks a lot about what he knows which is the difficulty of coming into a lot of money in a little time. He speaks on his life. A lot of people, like… normal people, can’t really connect to… unless they’re pretend ballin out at the club… which is all people do these days. Pretend to make money. Pretend to have more than the next. Always on payday. The rest of the week, they’re back in the struggle. I mean… Drake was a college boy, too.. but when I watched his “When I Was 17” on MTV, I immediately noticed how uncool he was. Poor Drake was a little cornball with lots of talent. No disrespect, he’s nice now, but he looks like the kind of guy who can’t dress himself. He’s half lame & we all know it. He doesn’t have any personal swag. All his swag is recorded on a mic. It’s like that’s all the swag he’s got. Drake lacks presence on tracks. Which might be why both Jay and Rick Ross had him sing the hooks on their songs, “Off That” and “Aston Martin Music“, respectively. I mean, Cole got a (pretty vicious) verse in on “A Star is Born“. 

     This is where I think Hip-Hop has been lacking. In standing behind the struggle. In Jay-Z’s “Decoded” there’s a section about BIG’s line in “Juicy” where he dedicates the song to “all the niggas in the struggle”.  & That’s real. It’s  what Jay calls, “the ultimate story, the story of struggle, which is what defines us all.” Drake doesn’t have enough struggle for me. He’s like DMC to me in that he “elevate[s…] humble life into something iconic” (p10). He can say day to day shit & make it sound cool. For example, he ended the line I used above from “Light Up” with “I could use a cup of O.J.”  And we sang right along with the nothing-ness. Drake’s a master of the love song and the party record. He has reinvented R&B and it’s relation to Hip-Hop. Drake is Hip-Hop-and-R&B –in one.

Cole, though? My man speaks. And he makes me want to listen to every word he says. This man is vicious. This man is Hip-Hop.